“HAD WE BUT WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME”: FIRST EDITION OF MARVELL’S MISCELLANEOUS POEMS, 1681, WITH FIRST PRINTING OF “TO HIS COY MISTRESS” AND OTHERS
MARVELL, Andrew. Miscellaneous Poems. London: Printed for Robert Boulter, 1681. Small folio (8 by 12 inches), contemporary full brown sheep rebacked and recornered, raised bands; pp. (vi), 1-116, 131-139.
First and only collected edition of Marvell’s poetry to be published in his own century, containing the first printing of many poems, including “To His Coy Mistress,” with scarce engraved frontispiece portrait, a handsome wide-margined copy in contemporary boards.
"The finest flower of secular and serious metaphysical poetry… Marvell united in himself, with an independent moderation of his own, a fresh muscular, agile, and subtle metaphysical wit and the rationality, clarity, economy, and structural sense of a genuine classic, the cultured, negligent grace of a cavalier and something of the religious and ethical seriousness of a Puritan Platonist. To this rare combination of gifts were added, moreover, a feeling for nature at once particular and general, earthly and unearthly, and an individual sensitivity and suppleness of rhythm…. It is [Marvell's] blending of the metaphysical and the classical which makes 'To His Coy Mistress' stand out as it does even in such an age of love poetry" (Bush, English Literature in the Early 18th Century, 158-63). Very few of Marvell's poems, and none of his important metaphysical poems, were published in his lifetime. Evidence exists that the woman who called herself "Mary Marvell," and who had this collection published "according to the exact Copies of my late dear Husband, under his own Hand-Writing, being found since his Death among his other Papers," may only have been Marvell's housekeeper, claiming to be his widow in order to inherit a small sum. This copy is complete with the rare engraved frontispiece portrait of Marvell, and Mary Marvell's address "To The Reader," both of which are often missing. This is, as in all known copies but two, the second issue, omitting the suppressed poems (pages 117-130) in praise of Cromwell. (The two known copies of the first issue are both imperfect and in institutional libraries.) Although the suppressed poems were in praise of Cromwell, this collection does still contain "In Effigiem Oliveri Cromwell" and "Two Songs at the Marriage of the Lord Fauconberg and the Lady Mary Cromwell." Pforzheimer 671. Wither to Prior 536. Wing M872. Hayward 126. Bookplates of highly renowned bibliophile Thomas Jefferson McKee, whose "knowledge and judgment of books were of a rare order" (New York Times).
Interior generally fresh with engraved frontispiece portrait trimmed and mounted, occasional expert archival marginal repair, minor edge-wear to boards. An extremely good copy of this preeminent literary work.